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Category Archives: Parkinson’s Disease

It’s now been a little over three and a half years since I first noticed the slight tremor in my left hand.  Two and a half years ago I received the official diagnosis.  It was Parkinson’s disease.  At the time I didn’t really know what that meant.  I didn’t know that the tremors would become more and more pronounced and spread to other parts of my body.  I didn’t know that certain muscles would turn rigid.  I didn’t know that my balance would be compromised and fatigue would become my biggest challenge each day.  I didn’t know that depression would become an issue.  I knew God had a plan for my life but I didn’t know that it included Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.  The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur.  Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease.  Depression and anxiety are also common, along with sensory, sleep, and emotional problems.  (Wikipedia)

Almost two years ago I posted on my blog an entry entitled “At Peace with Parkinson’s.”  It was true.  I did have peace…sorta.  A few months later, I had an appointment with my neuro ophthalmologist. Brad is a good friend and a committed Christian.  He walked into the exam room and asked, “So, how is the peace with Parkinson’s going?” At that instant, sitting in the exam room, I fell apart and wept.  My friend crossed the room and gently hugged me and began to pray over me.  The peace was still there but covered up with the stress that Parkinson’s brings.  In my life with Parkinson’s, each day I am confronted with my vulnerability and fragility. I am reminded that life is different. I have a disease that is not going away. Unless God decides differently, it will progress and present even more challenges that I must face and turn over to God.  Yet, perhaps the most important thing that God has led me to do is embrace the disease and use it to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Fear is sometimes a healthy thing.  At other times it is the manifestation of my spiritual enemy who is out to destroy my life. There are moments I am afraid of what Parkinson’s will bring.  My Parkinson’s verse of Scripture is Psalm 139:16, “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  I find great comfort and peace knowing that God knew I would face the many challenges of Parkinson’s disease.  He continues to hold my hand and comfort me, giving me daily strength to embrace my disease and make a difference in the lives of others.

He has given me opportunities to speak in front of crowds and share my Parkinson’s story.  I have the privilege of facilitating a Parkinson’s support group.  My sweet wife, kids, granddaughters, and extended family get to watch me model faithfulness and dependence on God’s love, mercy, and provision.  God is also using my Parkinson’s in a positive way in my work as I chaplain hundreds of employees.  I can now truly empathize with people struggling with chronic pain, disease, and physical handicaps. Who am I to say life would be better without Parkinson’s. It would be different and easier, but better?  Not so sure.

(See related post, “At Peace With Parkinson’s Disease” August 23, 2016)

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I have enjoyed success most of my life. Failure never seems to set me back very much and quickly turns positive for a variety of reasons. Hardship consists of things not going as planned, which does not mean things do not go well. I live a blessed life, full of close friends, great relationships, a wonderful wife, kids who love me and now, granddaughters who are just perfect. My health never holds me back and I enjoy a variety of activities that keep me moving. I exercise by working in my garden and yard. I walk with my wife and have a job that keeps me on my feet most of the day. A lot of people would choose my life over their own.

Life became more challenging the first week of October 2014, when I noticed a slight tremor in a muscle on top of my left hand.  It became more pronounced over the next couple of months to the point that I went to a neurologist in February 2015.  She diagnosed it as something called Essential Tremor.  That struck me as odd because I did not see much about it that was essential!  Over the next year I watched the tremor become more and more pronounced.  Last February, my doctor finally diagnosed my condition as Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression and anxiety are also common, along with sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. (Wikipedia)

I have a tremor in my left hand.  I have a slight tremor in my left foot that I can feel but cannot see.  I have some slight balance issues and shuffle my feet a little more than I used to.  My vision is presenting some bothersome challenges and my handwriting is getting smaller.

Having said that, I am doing really well.  I am on medication to deal with the tremors.  I have adjusted my diet and try to exercise and stay active.  Nothing has changed really.  I’m still doing everything I want to do.  However, I stay off ladders and am more careful than I used to be.  I am still working full-time and at the age of 63 I have no plans to slow down as retirement age nears.  My doctor has said she sees no reason why I cannot plan on working many more years.

Professor and theologian Wayne Grudem also has Parkinson’s disease. He says, “Parkinson’s usually does not shorten a person’s life expectancy very much, but in any case, I’m happy to live as long as the Lord wills that I live, and to keep on being productive for as long as he enables me to do so.”

Dr. Grudem quotes Psalm 139:16, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

I truly believe that God doesn’t waste anything in our lives and has a purpose in allowing the challenging issues with which we have to deal.  The apostle Paul had to deal with something in his life he referred to as a thorn in his flesh.

2 Corinthians 2:7b-10 NLT says, “7b …So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Dr. Grudem shares his thoughts regarding Paul’s thorn in his flesh. “After some study of 2 Corinthians 12:7, my own conclusion at this point is that there is not enough information in the text to decide what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. There are reasons that can be given in support of all three main possibilities: (1) a physical ailment of some kind; (2) a demon that was harassing him; or, (3) Jewish persecutors. The fact that we are unable to decide conclusively has some benefits, however: it means that we can apply this text to all of these kinds of situations in our own lives, when the Lord in his sovereign wisdom decides not to remove them from us.”

Dr. Grudem continues, “Whatever Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was (and centuries of work by Bible-believing interpreters have failed to turn up a definitive answer), Paul realized that God allowed it to remain with him “to keep me from exalting myself.” (2 Corinthians 12:7), that is, to keep Paul humble before the Lord. So the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

I am choosing to look at my Parkinson’s disease as my thorn. It will serve as a constant reminder to keep my mind and life focused on the things of God. It will remind me how blessed a life I have had so far. It will remind me that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and, in God’s power, I am made perfect in my weakness.

For some reason God wants to use Parkinson’s disease to make a difference in my life and the lives of others.  I have already used the condition of my health in conversations with employees I chaplain who are struggling with other health issues.  Parkinson’s disease is something in my life that I have accepted and intend to use as a blessing.

Pray for me.  Don’t hesitate to ask God to heal me.  But also pray that God uses this disease in my life in a mighty way.  Thank you in advance for your prayers.